Do you know someone who struggles with being organized, getting started on tasks, or who get distracted easily? Perhaps they forget to complete assignments, make careless mistakes, or put off work until the last minute- having no sense of time.
Many individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD or Autism struggle with these types of skills and they are often collectively referred to as ‘Executive Function Skills.’
It has become somewhat of a buzzword as therapists in all fields and teachers are becoming more aware of the impact that these complex skills have on learning and everyday life. Psychologists, Dawson and Guare, have identified two sets of executive function skills: One set helps us to achieve our goals, the second set of skills helps us guide or modify our behavior in order to reach our goals.
The first set of skills encompasses organization, planning, time management, memory and metacognition: For example-
- Organize your space or materials
- Plan your day ahead of time so you are prepared
- Arrive places on time
- Perform complex tasks and use past experiences to problem solve
- Take a birds eye view to see how you problem solve, and self-evaluate
The second set of skills encompasses response inhibition, self-regulating affect, flexibility, and goal directed persistence. For example-
- Think before you act!
- Manage your emotions
- Be flexible
- Stick to your plans and goals
We need to use all of these skills in order to guide or modify our behavior. As Occupational Therapists, we are specially trained to help individuals develop strategies for self-regulation, address social competence skills and help individuals to get motivated to succeed. We consider how individuals occupy their time so that they can actively participate in a meaningful and fulfilled life. We determine which specific executive function skills are impacting performance and we provide individualized tools and strategies to enhance these skills.
Transition Steps to Success is dedicated to developing the executive function skills needed to create greater independence in school, work, and home life. Establishing tools and strategies to enhance executive function skills is a natural part of the Occupational Therapy process. The use of paper planners and new tech apps are excellent strategies to use. Every individual will need to trial different tools to determine what will work best.
Check out these highly rated apps helping people overcome their Executive Skill challenges:
- 30/30 – Timer and to-do list in one (3030.binaryhammer.com)
- Freaky Alarm – Customizable alarm to stop the snooze habits (freakyalarm.com)
- myHomework – Track schedule, assignments and tests (myhomeworkapp.com)
- StayOnTask – Maintain focus and persist through a task (stayontask.tv)
- Breethe – Guided meditation to relieve anxiety and improve focus (breethe.com)